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October 27, 2006

Boys Are Broadway Bound

BY CYNDI GREENING, PHOENIX, USA & ALEC HART, NEW YORK CITY, USA – On October 16, 2006, two of the FilmZambia crew took off for "The Big Apple." While Alec spent the spring in NYC attending classes, doing an internship and, in general, having a big adventure, Jacob was at Mesa Community College taking media arts classes. After working together to make the documentary and feature films in Zambia, the guys decided the could live and work together in NYC. So, they finished editing the rough cut of the feature and boarded (a much delayed) plane headed eastward.

BroadwayBoys.jpgIt's been a little over a week that they've been gone. They report that they're putting the finishing touches on their demo reels and started to contact production companies and entities via CraigsList Manhattan. They've been spending time building their skills with AfterEffects 7. After editing the film on Final Cut Pro, their skills are well-honed in that program. As you can see by the photos, the guys were well-loved and appreciated by the gals on the crew. Jacob is surrounded by Jeniece, M.K. and Pamela. Alas, the best photo I could find of Alec was one with me. I'm sure they'll hope to be similarly surrounded in NY. We shall have to see how they do with that.

Alec reports that the weather is cool and crisp. They're doing a lot of walking and exploring. Jacob is liking the New York deli food and the architecture of the city. I'm wondering if Jacob is homesick. Based on Alec's vocal quality when he calls, I'd say he's pretty dang happy where he is ... it might even be "home" to him now. I'll keep you'all updated on their progress.

October 22, 2006

Robby's Fo'Reel

BY ROBBY BROWN, MESA, USA – Robby's Fo'Reel Is what I thought was an appropriate name for a folder to keep all of my work to edit my Demo Reel on Cyndi's desktop. Robby's Fo'Reel somehow found it's way from the desktop to the harddrive to another desk to another harddrive and a couple more desktops at the same time taking up gigs and gigs of space. I'm have learned a great deal about how to manage my media so people, such as Cyndi, don't go crazy trying to keep track of everything.

"My media is offline! What the--"

"Where did you save it?" Cyndi would ask me.

Doh! Now, I'm figuring out. Yesterday, I finished My Demo Reel and am very happy with it. I've already sent it out to 6-8 different postings I've found on Craigslist and soon to be more. Before I finished my reel, I inquired about a job as an assignment cameraman for Media Center down in Phoenix. I sent them an e-mail with an informal resume. The next morning, I called them to check up on things and they said, "Oh! You're the Africa guy." It was so exciting to hear that.

robbynickedgar.jpg"Yeah...I'm the Africa guy." I knew this project would help me get my foot in the door. I've always daydreamed about it and it finally happened. And quickly. I'm so so so thankful for the support from everybody on the crew. We're all going places because we have each other. Plus we kick butt. Our time at the "Kraalette" Is finally over. I took my toothbrush, my burned DVDs and whatever else I forgot Cyndi would throw to me. It's a bummer, I won't see everybody as often and we don 't really have a common meeting place anymore. But I'll take what I've learned and accomplish my goals. I'm pretty much already there. "I Can't Believe It!" Cooooool!!!

Demonstrating Learning

BY CYNDI GREENING, PHOENIX, USA – Teaching is a very gratifying profession when the students take what they learn and make it their own. I've been teaching for over 16 years and I've had some wonderful moments but the FilmZambia experience has made most of those past successes pale in comparison. Taking 14 students to another country to shoot TWO films was a daunting task and, as I've written before, the students far surpassed what I had expected or even hoped. They were simply amazing in their dedication, determination and commitment.

Since we've been back, we've spent the last six weeks editing the feature and the doc. They're taking shape and with a few more weeks of effort, they may be ready to screen. There's a mountain of footage and the films prove to be a devilish sort of "Rubik's Cube." Move one scene and seven others tumble out of place while two more fall into place. They're giant puzzles that challenge and, at times, inspire me.


This weekend, I finally surrendered the hotel rooms we've been using as our editing facility. After 39 days, it was time to shift the work flow. As part of the process of shifting, I encouraged all of the production crew to get their demo reels in order and pursue more film work. They've spent the last week on their reels and, I have to say, I'm really impressed with what they put together. It's interesting to see how their personalities and points of view are evident in their reels. You get a good sense of who each person is by their work. [Note: There are six (6) more that are still in process and I will post them when they're done. ]

As a teacher, it is gratifying to see what they have done and who they have become.

  • Robby Brown provided cinematography and editing on the documentary and production assistant on the feature. Robby learned to live with a camera in his hand and see the world through a two-inch window.
  • Carlos Espinosa was the cinematographer on the feature film. His reel also presents some of his other short film work. Carlos has a great eye for color, composition and movement.
  • Nick Marshall functioned as first AD on the feature and assisted with editing on the feature and documentary. Kafkaesque by nature, Nick proved to be a tremendous assest in all phases of production. I'm looking forward to his directorial debut.
  • M.K. Racine was the wild card on the production. Ultimately, she provided production assistance on the feature and documentary. Detail-oriented to the extreme, M.K. was dogged in her determination to get things done. This reel is the FIRST thing she's ever edited. I was impressed.

Alec, Jacob, Jeniece, Mike and Pamela are still working on their reels. I'm hoping Shawn and Jared get theirs to me as well. Pretty nifty. This is one of my rewards for the project.

October 20, 2006

Alert Your Face

BY PAMELA BOWMAN MESA ARIZONA - I like to laugh … a lot. As a matter of fact I am usually laughing in my head most of the time. Some people ask me? “Pam, are you happy today?” And I say, “Sure.” Then they say, “You should alert your face.”

I don’t have the most revealing of faces. In Zambia, Malumba Malumba, one of the actors was sharing his impressions of the crew members. He commented on M.K. and how she was so approachable. “You can tell she is in charge of public relations. She greets everyone with a smile and a hug.” He said that Jeaniece is just a sweet girl. He was the one that gave Cyndi the nick name Makumba. That means earthquake or when she walks in the room things start to move. Then he pointed to me and said, “When you meet Pam she looks straight in your eyes and sees into your soul. She is quiet and watches everything and everyone. I think she will tell the real story of Zambia.” The crew joined me in laughing on that one!

pamlaughing.jpgSometimes I had to go to my room because I just had to laugh into my pillow! How many people could come to the Kraal and ask for our coveted black t-shirts? How many of the drivers were going to ask how many different crew members for gas money, phone money and food money? The one that was over the top was when I sent a driver with K50,000 kwacha for phone minutes and he returned with K40,000. I asked him what had happened to the rest. He explained that he had decided to put the other K10,000 in his phone. WHAT? Or the time we gave the driver K60,000 for gas and only K40,000 was put in. “I am going to use the rest for my ride home.”

There were so many moments of sheer ridiculous requests. We had a cook. His name is Daudi. We loved Daudi. He cooked very well. And he tried so hard! The night before we left he approached me and said, “Pam, I want to come to America and be your personal chef in your home.” I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t help it. I had to laugh out loud and in his face. How could he think I could afford a personal chef? Cyndi received even more requests. One was for three computers to start an internet café! One person asked Jeniece for her hair! “Your’s will grow back.”

Of course the one time on the trip that I couldn’t contain my composure was when Cyndi fell off the bus and landed face first in the African dirt. “Cyndi, are you ok?” Both Alec and I asked. I mean we were concerned for her welfare. But before she answered I could feel my stomach start to tighten. She looked like she was doing the breast stroke in the African dirt for pete's sake! She replied, “Yes! I am just so pissed!” She finally got up and stormed after M.K. Our windows slammed shut and the laughter bubbled over. She could hear the roar from outside! Just remembering...well my stomach is tightening up all over again! The image is burned in my brain. Too funny!

Yes, I learned many things about Zambia and about myself. I like to laugh …a lot and I think I have alerted my face!

October 19, 2006

Sweet!.... Tomatoes

BY JENIECE "GIDGET" TORANZO, MESA, ARIZONA- The other night, Tuesday, some of the crew (Nick, Carlos, Mike, M.K. Cyndi, and I) went to Sweet Tomatoes in Phoenix. It's a great place. All you can eat. Can't go wrong with that. Of course, we started our meals out with a gigantic salad. I think they have you start out with that cause you can definitely fill up on that and not be able to eat as much on the good stuff. Just a theory. After the salad, most of us went for the soups. Yeah, you can tell we have a big hearty appetite right now-huh. All the soups ended up being low fat and most of them were tomato based. Sounds yummy huh? Yeah if you have some kind of a tomato fetish I guess.

JacobJenieceAlec.jpgAnyway, back to the story. M.K. had one of the soups and added Tabasco sauce in it. She had me try it. Boy oh boy was it spicy! That's a spicy soup! I about died! I had to eat a cookie after that to calm it down cause it was a burning in my mouth! Never again will I do that. What was I thinking cause I already know that I can't handle the spicy foods. Yeah kinda goofy huh when I'm part hispanic. Carlos was making fun of me. I was eating my chicken noodle soup, by the way, I don't think the noodles are cooked all the way. Just an FYI. I was eating the broth part of the soup and I was hovering over the bowl when I see Carlos out of the corner of my eye, next to me, rub his hands together. I thought he was making fun of me and I busted out laughing so hard that I almost spit the soup out. But really, he was just asking me for a napkin. I don't know what was up with me that night because another incident happened. I remember at one point, coming back from the soup area and going back to the table, I got all sad and Cyndi knew why and had to put me on the spot. It was because the last time we were at a Sweet Tomatoes, Alec and Jacob were there with us and we were sitting pretty much in the same area as we did last time. Cyndi said," just pretend that we are waiting for them, like usual. They are taking longer to get ready." That kinda helped because it was easy to do. But I was still bummed knowing that they are gone now and off doing their own thing which I am happy and excited for them. I will miss them very much. We were like the three musketeers. Only I'm a girl, not a boy. We can improvise though right? Right. I guess it just sucks because this project is coming to an end soon and the relationships that we have built with everyone will soon fizzle down. I hope to keep in touch with everyone, but that's easier said than done.

After that, Cyndi went and got a new straw and mentioned that the one she had was broken. I could not help it but laugh and I was laughing for about 10 minutes! It was a long time and no one knew why which made it even more funnier. I even started to cry. I eventually spitted out what I was laughing about. It was because before we sat down, I went to get a drink and a straw. I tried to open the straw by tapping it open and ended up breaking it. You know how you can just tell, once you bust it. So I got a new one and left the broken one on my tray. When I sat down, Cyndi grabbed the other straw off my tray (the broken one). I didn't tell her that it was broken. For some reason I thought, well maybe it's not broken and if it is, then she will find out. Well she didn't say anything about it throughout our whole dinner until we were almost done.Then she got up and went to get a new straw and said "that straw was broken. I've been sucking this whole time through a broken straw. This time I got two just in case." I must say, it was the funniest thing to me and no one knew why. I don't even know why it was so funny. I haven't laughed like that to where I start to cry, in a long time. Aww...it felt good. You should try it sometime.:)

October 15, 2006

Nurturing Dreams

BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MESA, ARIZONA, USA - As we edit the two films we created in Zambia, we each are affected differently by the footage we view. It is true we begin to feel the same feelings we felt as we relive some of the moments we experienced.

WomenChildren.jpgAs an older woman, I believe I saw and felt things many of the other students might not have seen or felt. For me, many of the most difficult or uncomfortable moments came when I spoke with other women of Zambia. Sometimes these moments came when Zambian men talked about their women.

I heard many men speak about the value they place in women in their role as mother and wife. They say they honor their women because they care for their future generation. I spoke with the women. Time after time they told me how they were home with the children and ended up having to find work wherever they could. They told me that their husbands and the father of their children rarely help support the children they fathered. Often they do not see their husbands for days. He shows up when he wants usually without offering financial assistance for their home or family. They feel abandoned by their men and by their government.

I do not suggest that this situation is unique only to Zambia. It is not. But it was in Zambia where I was interviewing the people. I was interested in their interpersonal relationships. One Zambian man told me that men were most important because they were the ones who contribute financially to the family. That, he said, is what makes men more essential. During our conversation, he mentioned that his wife worked also and had a better job then himself. He was glad because his employment was not always steady.

“Wouldn’t that make her a financial contributor to the family as well?" I asked. "Wouldn’t that make her just as essential?” He had to stop. He smiled awkwardly. He had a moment of realization.

I watched the men and their interaction with women. I watched their interaction with me. Many times, I felt degraded and I don’t even live there. During one scene in the feature, we tried to portray Zambia’s version of a wedding shower. At this party the bride receives instruction on how to care for and respect her husband and her children. She is told what is expected of her. I, of course, asked if men receive similar training. No. I was told that they do not. “It is the woman who has all the control. She runs the home. She raises our children. She is the queen.”

I spoke with many “queens.” They feel abandoned and are left with few choices. As part of my research, I would ask men, women and children the same question. “When you were young, what did you want to do when you were older? What did you want to be?” It was easier for the men and children to answer the questions. Many of the women would stop and reach for the memory of those early years. Years when they had dreams and goals. Years when they were a child themselves. They would look down at their withered hands. 3ZambianChildren.jpgThey looked around and saw their children running with hungry bellies. They would finger their own torn, worn clothes and tangled matted hair.

More often than not, they would flatly say, “What does it matter?"

It should always matter. How can a mother be the heart and soul of the family if her personal dreams do not matter to her or those of her family? Everyone deserves to have dreams and the support and ability to make their dreams come true, especially the queen!

October 09, 2006

Sundance Ticket Deadline

SFF07.jpgBY CYNDI GREENING MESA, ARIZONA USA-This year’s Sundance events are particularly significant. It is the 25th year of the festival and to celebrate I am submitting my first feature film and documentary as Executive Producer! As a result I am very aware of deadlines…Edit, Edit Edit!

So, as a matter of consideration and the fact that I remind my readers every year of this information, I am letting the world know that this Friday is the deadline for the 2006 Sundance film festival registration. Yep This Friday!

The following information is located on the Sundance site.

You must register to be eligible to purchase a Festival package and/or pass. Registration for 2006 pass/packages ends October 14. Registrants will be randomly assigned a date and time during the last week of October to purchase their pass and/or package online. Package and/or pass sales are based on availability. Registration does not guarantee availability.

You must register in order to be eligible to purchase individual tickets prior to the Festival. Beginning in early November, visit www.sundance.org and complete a registration form. A computer will randomly assign a date and time for registrants to purchase a total of 20 tickets (4 maximum per screening) online or over the telephone. Individual tickets sales will take place during the second week of January and are available based on availability. Registration does not guarantee availability.
For package, pass, and ticket questions, send an e-mail to or call (435) 776-7878 Monday through Friday between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (MST) For general Festival information, call (435) 658-3456.

Now do not get confused with the registration dates. Just register by Friday October 14th. Also, for those true movie enthusiasts, if you want to really enjoy the movie’s, Sundance suggests attending the second week (B) when the “crowd” has thinned out. Unfortunately, I do NOT concur! You have a better chance to view the movies of your choice plus enjoy the Sundance events, parties and the closing ceremonies BUT more of the films open and more of the directors/actors come the first week.

In order to do that you must meet the deadline! Friday , October 14th. Do I need to repeat myself again? I didn’t think so.

October 08, 2006

Life in the Fast Lane

heathsCar.jpgBY HEATH McKINNEY, MESA, AZ - Ever since we arrived into the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, from our month long journey to Africa, I have had a feeling of confidence. Before we left, I was in a uncomfortable spot. I had no job, no money, no car, and no way to change all of that. All that I had lacked before had made me feel as though I was ineffective as a human being. While in Africa, we all lacked a little bit of that stuff, but we learned to do without. We fought for what we needed and progessed because of what we believed in.

Today, I have a great paying job. I work over 50 hours per week. I bought myself a car; I know I know, don't everyone go into shock at once. I have so much more personal freedom being independent. It really has made me feel as if Africa has turned me into an effective person. And I am indebted to everyone that participated, and helped me change who I used to be.

Now when I drive around town it's a different feeling, because I've never been in a car by myself. Laugh all you want, but it's a sweet change of lifestyle. My sleek '98 Jetta will be my first. They always say that you never forget your first. And that will be the same with BAD TIMING . The first of many to come. I have learned that when you begin something new, there will be things that you love about it and things you dislike about it. The experiences that you gain and treasure will never be erased.

Maybe now that I can drive, I can go to Kareoke bars and practice my moves. Maybe not.

October 06, 2006

I Can't Believe it

flintstoneCam.jpgBY ROBBY BROWN - MESA, ARIZONA I can't believe it. We have been home for almost a month now. Were we really in Africa shooting two films?!? Reality sets in everyday as the crew gathers in the hotel suites to do post-production.

I can’t believe how tedious and time-consuming post-production is! Fortunately I love it! Everyday I learn something new, something that will help me in my career. I feel like I have so much more experience and knowledge from all the experiences from the last several months. It has been all hands on, I tell ya! It is amazing to see how much we all have accomplished individually and as a crew!

I can’t believe how close we all became on the crew. I didn’t expect that. Now we are all making plans for our lives and we are going our separate ways. We are each taking what we learned and applying it to our own personal ambitions. It is sooo cool. This experience is helping each of us achieve our dreams! In the end I know we will always be a film family. We will always be Cyndi’s baby ducks. She led us in, got us through the rough situations and got us home.

I can’t believe that one of my teachers at Mesa Community College, who three months ago thought I was pretty much just a goof ball, I see more then my own roommates. I fall asleep on her beds. I rummage through her fridge and I use her toothpaste! Yea, I bring my toothbrush to work!

I can’t believe how much she continues to teach me. I have been thinking a lot about how I want to put together a demo real to send out to future employers. It has been fun to look at the footage I shot and see how it has changed and how I have grown as a filmmaker. While editing the doc I can see my gradual progress as a cinematographer. It is funny. As I watch I laugh and remember. I tell myself not to zoom. Come on don’t zoom….No! Why did you zoom!

I can’t believe how much money I can make doing something that I am absolutely thrilled about! I am more excited to learn everything I can. I am more excited about life! While I work I get in my own little world and I hear someone yell “doc cam!”. I feel that moment of excitement and energy. Then I realize it is just Cyndi wrestling Jeanette or Pam’s trying to pinch one of the kids.

I can’t believe it is almost over and sometimes I can’t believe it ever happened.
I can’t believe we have submitted two films to the Sundance film festival. I am apart of that and always will be. Me, Robby Brown! What, what whaaaat?

I can't believe it!

October 05, 2006

Sustaining Ourselves

BY JENIECE "GIDGET" TORANZO, MESA, ARIZONA - Since working on the post production, we have been naughty about eating good. When we're racing against time my friend, it's all about fast food. Last night at the Inn Suites hotel, where we are currently working at, Cyndi gave MK and I the responsibility to handle dinner while everyone else was working on the post production. As usually, no one knew where or what they wanted to eat. "What do you want to eat?" "I don't know. What do you want to eat?" After about 10-20 minutes of I don't knows, I suggested Chick-fil-a. I love Chick-fil-a because they are pretty healthy and have good quality food considering it's fast food, unlike some other fast food joints. No need to name names. We know who they are.

After we had all, well except two, agreed to Chick-fil-a, I went online to find locations as to where they were at. I don't know my way around Tempe so doing a google search on it sounded like a good idea. MK and I studied the map and then wrote down the number "just in case". As we started to drive, we were debating on what the best route would be to get to our destination. We thought of several ways but settled on just taking side streets instead of the freeway. That was our first mistake. Going down Baseline was just peachy if you minus all the little red lights we had to stop at. We finally got to Mill Ave. road and I forget that I hate driving down there because the road splits into weird directions. Well of course I ended up going the wrong was and we had to keep turning around. When we finally got to the road where we thought Chick-fil-a would be at, it was no where to be found. Just our luck. We kept going to little side streets hoping that we would "accidently" stumble upon it. It's a good thing that M.K. was with me because we ended up finally stopping and asking for directions. I would have just kept driving around or givin up if it were me. Yeah yeah, typical guy thing huh. Somehow I was blessed with that trait.

Well, we found out that Chick-fil-a was located at ASU. After asking several more people and circling around the school campus some more, we figured out that it was on campus inside the one of the buildings and upstairs. While we were asking for directions from several students, M.K. made a comment "feels like we're back in Zambia again". We laughed and thought, who knew it be this difficult to get food in the states too! It took over an hour just to get dinner and the place was only a few miles away! Oh well, I guess it's something to laugh at now. M.K. and I shared a priceless moment that is now just a memory to us. Thanks M.K.! Love ya girl!

The next day, of course, I had the responsibility again to handle dinner. Like always, it took an hour to even decide where we were going to eat and calling for locations. It was a toss up between Baja Fresh, Rubios, and Chipotle. Well, Chipotle won the votes. I said I wuld go pick it up again for everyone. I was gonna go by myself, but apparently Jacobo wanted to go with me since he hasn't been out of the hotel that day. I knew they didn't want me to go by myself though, but it's nice to know that they care. Well, it was a good thing he did come because low and behold, it was Zambia all over again, I tell ya. Again, it was only a few miles away and we drove around trying to find the place for almost an hour! Jacob finally decided that maybe we should stop at a gas station and ask for directions. Well we started to pull into the gas station when we both chickened out and changed our minds about asking. It was a funny moment I must say. We just ended up going back on the road and driving up and down the street some more. Finally after calling Carlos for directions, which weren't exactly accurate and not helpful, Jacobo finally figured out were it was at. It took some thinking and use of his memory to solve the case. Chipotle ended up being behind some buildings next to the freeway. They definitly need a bigger sign or something because it's not very noticable at all. Since I have never been there before, I had no idea what to look for. Not much help I was, huh. To make matters worse, I didn't realize that they weren't a drive through either. Trying to order 6 different burritos was not all that peachy either because one, they play their music really loud which makes it difficult to hear and two, if you don't know their ingredients then it's hard to understand what they are talking about. I felt like a goober, but it's a good thing Jacobo had my back and knew what to do. Good looking out Jacobo! Ha ha. Jacobo is funny because he wanted to make up a lie to the crew as to why it took us so long. There were a long line of a highschool band with their brothers, sisters, mothers...(wink wink). He's funny. I will sure miss him when he and Alec move up to New York City! I will cherish the moments that I have spent with ALL of them.

October 04, 2006

I Am Ready

ShawnHS.jpgBY SHAWN DOWNS, HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA, USA - A few months ago I was given the opportunity to join the crew of BAD TIMING. At first I was hesitant to go to another country. It was such a large decision to make in a short period of time, especially when I just graduated high school and I was preparing to begin film school in two months. But, ultimately the decision was an easy one. I realize that few opportunities open in the film business. When you are given a chance to work on a feature film, you take it. You cannot be afraid to take on a project because you think it may be too big for you. You must rise to every challenge. You cannot fear failure.

Upon my arrival in Zambia I began to understand the importance of this experience. I am only 19 years old, and have never been abroad. The weeks I am in Zambia, I find myself thinking differently. People close to me told me that this experience in Africa will change my perspective on life. I now understand what they meant by that. I am so excited because now I see the changes in my writing and my ability to think of creative ideas and develop my scripts.

When it came time to shoot I was not quite sure what to expect of myself. I produced a few shorts in high school and had done extensive research on cinematography and editing over the last few years but had never been put in a situation where I had to perform on the set of a feature film. I had no doubt in my mind that I woud give my best work. As a gaffer I ran into problems the first day on set when our crew realized that the bulbs were the wrong voltage. We were still using American bulbs. This error was rather embarrassing. However, we learned from this mistake and corrected the problem. I began to understand why there is such a large importance on pre-production in the film business.

I felt very comfortable working with the crew. It is certainly true that a film crew becomes like a family by the time the movie is finished. The collaboration between everyone pushed the film through its toughest trials. Everyone respected each other and their skills. Everyone accepted criticism and improved upon it. I always hear that many low budget films go unfinished. It is remarkable that we flew to another country, one that has no film industry, and worked together to complete our film.

It has been a month since I returned from Zambia. Now I am in Hollywood studying directing and screenwriting. I still find myself listening to Zambian music and looking through pictures from the production. I feel so fortunate to be this young, and already have participated greatly in a field that I always dreamt of working in all my life. I feel now that I am ready to take on this business. I am ready to do great things.

October 03, 2006

Cameras Donated To Zambian National Arts Council

movingVisuals.jpgBY CYNDI GREENING, PHOENIX, USA – Great news today! The folks at Moving Visuals have located TWO CAMERAS that will be donated to the National Arts Council for use by Zambian filmmakers, artists and students. When the FilmZambia crew left, we donated a dolly, steadicam, light set, gel set and sandbags to the Council. With the addition of the cameras from Moving Visuals, we're hoping to encourage the growth of independent film in the country.

If you've been following this blog, you know it's been four weeks since we returned from our Zambian film shoot. Since then, we've been working on editing BOTH the documentary and the feature. We made our own little KRAALETTE (a smaller version of the Kwazulu Kraal in a hotel in Tempe ... we've rented adjoining suites so as many of us as possible can work as many hours as possible. I've started as early as 7am, people have stayed as late as 4am. A few of us sleep here to protect the equipment. Though it may seem congested, there's something familiar and comforting about continuing to work together.

For a while, there were challenges editing the feature. We were feeling frustrated because we'd worked so hard to get it done. It was nice to have the others there to kevetch with. Then, we started working on the documentary and we got very inspired again because we were reliving all we'd been through together. I now understand why people who work on film crews together get so close and keep working together over time. You really come to know who you can trust, who will watch your back and who will come through at the end of the day. I think with us being half way around the world, we became especially close because we knew we only had each other. I'd love to go back to Zambia and make another film. I think it would be so different this time because we are so different now. We'll have to see what the future will bring.

October 02, 2006

Back to the Start…

BY M.K. "MARIA" RACINE, PHOENIX, AZ - I believe that things come full circle; now that the Sundance rough cut deadlines have passed, I am posting a blog entry that I had intended to make at the very beginning of this Zambian experience. My fiancé, Stefan, is the primary reason I became a member of the Film Zambia crew and I cannot end this Film Zambia experience without thanking him, without letting everyone know why, how, when this all took place for me. I'd like to go back to the beginning, to express the thoughts that have been with me all this time, as I begin to close out my experience in Zambia. This photo is the last one on my memory card, from our trip to Africa. Stefan took it as we left Sky Harbor, the night we returned from Zambia, the night he took me back home... SkyHarborpost.jpg

Look at the stars
see how they shine for you
and all the things you do
and they were all yellow...

By Coldplay

At times, during the night, we would be traveling on the bus to somewhere in Zambia. I would look out the window and up at the stars. A pleasant thought would come to mind, that Stefan would be looking up at the same starlit sky. (Though 9 hours later.) It always gave me comfort, as I would recall the lyrics to the song Yellow each time. Yellow, our song, and also Stefan's favorite color. I felt these stolen moments were my way of communicating with him and though these moments were brief, they meant a great deal to me. Unfortunately, I overheard Cyndi, one night, remind crew members that we were in a different hemisphere, hence under a different starlit sky than our loved ones back home.

Regardless, I continued to feel my connection with Stefan as I looked to the brilliance above, during those dark rides through Zambia.

If it weren't for Stefan, I would not have made it to Zambia. He and I were in Germany for five weeks in the early part of the summer, a time period that paralleled the original filming schedule. Once we had returned, the film budget was no longer able to support airfare for crew members. Those that still wanted to go needed to consider self-funding their trip.

One evening, while Stefan and I were having dinner, he looked at me and said, "if money is the only reason you do not go to Zambia, then it is the wrong reason."

Stefan funded my experience in Zambia. Though he did not have the money to spare, though it would take me miles from our life in Phoenix, he could see what the trip would give me in return...he saw the opportunity that I could not. He looked beyond the pragmatic and saw the adventure, the fulfillment, the life changing experience I was so primed for, one that awaited me in Zambia.

Right before I left for Africa, I sent out an e-mail to family and friends, thanking Stefan for loving me so much as to make this experience a reality for me. I had intended to blog such a sentiment, upon arriving in Zambia, however, by the time Internet access was available to us, we had Film Zambia experiences that needed to blogged. I never posted my public thank you…until now.

Stefan, you have given me more than I could have ever asked for, now and over the past several years. Stefan1.jpgYou continue to support and love me unconditionally, without limitation, without reservation. Thank you for your sacrifices, your selflessness and for your love. Thank you for knowing what's best for me and letting me go, without letting go. I appreciate you more than I can convey, and love you more than you could ever feel.

Stefan, look at the stars
know that they shine for you
one for each selfless thing you do
and yes, they are all yellow.

Danke schune